Voters choose Betz, Escalante, Metsch

Ballot Issue 4A fails 

With the votes counted, Kimberly Metsch, Reed Betz and Dan Escalante will become the newest members of the Crested Butte Town Council ushering in an era of youth and idealism. Crested Butte mayor Alan Bernholtz, who ran unopposed, was also declared a winner for his second term as mayor with 326 votes.


“Everyone in this town is young at heart, and it’s represented with the new council members,” Bernholtz said Tuesday night after the results were announced. Metsch received 356 votes, while Betz and Escalante each received 236 and 220 votes, respectively, winning the three open seats vacated by Margot Levy, Ron Chlipala and Bill Coburn. The three new elected Town Council members will each serve a four-year term. Candidates Bob Godwin and Todd Carroll received 213 votes and 176 votes. From her victory party on Tuesday night, Metsch said, “I am overwhelmed all three of us won, and I am excited to sit down with these guys. I am looking forward to getting my hands dirty.” Escalante shares Metsch’s excitement and is also looking forward to serving the town. “I am really excited – a decision has been made – and now we can roll up our sleeves and start getting things done,” Escalante said. “My vision for the council is for a young dreamers crew to be seen as doers,” Escalante added. Betz said he believes the election results are a statement from the people of town. “They are speaking with their vote – they’re ready for new voices,” Betz said. Current council member Billy Rankin said he is excited to work with the new candidates. “I think there will be a lot of cohesion, shared values, and progress,” Rankin said of the new members joining the council. “There is a lot of potential for this council to do great things.” Betz agreed with Rankin and said, “We have already started bonding because we have been attending and participating in meetings since the three of us starting campaigning.” Although the new council members will have a great deal to learn after being sworn in at the regularly scheduled council meeting on Monday, November 19, Metsch said she believes they will be ready. “We’re not going to be thrown into the lion’s den because we have been attending meetings for the past three months,” Metsch said. Betz said he believes all the council members – old or new – have common ground to stand on. “I believe we are going to work well together,” Betz said. “We may not always agree, but as long as there is respect it will be a good experience,” Escalante added. The new council members will fill the three seats opened by current council members Levy, Coburn and Chlipala’s departure. Levy served two terms on the town council, while Chlipala and Coburn each served one term. Bernholtz recognized the exiting candidates’ service to the town at the regular Town Council meeting on Monday, November 5 by giving each one a plaque and saying a couple of words. “We wanted to recognize the years of service the exiting members have given to the town – it’s been a real pleasure working with all of you,” Bernholtz said at the meeting. Levy thanked the citizens of Crested Butte and the town staff. “Thanks to the public for putting me in this position, and thanks to the town staff for making me look good,” Levy said, drawing laughs. Thirty-eight percent of registered voters participated in the mail-in ballot election, according to Gunnison County elections officer Cathy Simillion. Ballots were sent to 8,166 active registered voters. Twenty-nine ballots were not signed. Simillion estimates that the results of the election will be certified and official by November 14. The new Town Council members will be seated during the first regular Crested Butte Town Council meeting on Monday, November 19. The public is invited to attend and celebrate with the newly elected. The only countywide issue on the ballot failed. Ballot issue 4A would have allowed the Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District to raise its mil levy from current levels back to levels collected in 1992. Ballot issue 4A failed by 59 votes with 1,555 ballots cast against and 1,496 yes votes. The Met Rec District was formed in 1978 to provide a free television signal to Gunnison County. In 2001, the district expanded its mission to begin funding arts and recreation programs and facilities. The district wanted to increase its mil levy to support the new mission. The mil levy for the Met Rec District has dropped from .873 mils down to .535 mils since 1992 as a result of the TABOR amendment. The TABOR Amendment limits the amount of money a government agency can collect each year through its mil levy. The district has provided funding for various projects through the county and town. Simillion said the vote was not close enough for a recount.

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